He’s free-thinking, he’s got a funky essence and the Stories From The Highway LP is what Freethinker Funk Essence did next after March’s Ocean Drive 45. It is the Mannheim-based producer’s second full-length effort and provides nine tracks that extend and expand on the musical palette of first album – 2017’s The Traveler – which is to say the all-instrumental effort draws from sixties and seventies funk, disco, jazz as well as folk influences. And of course the intention, as the title implies, was to create a soundtrack for cruising the highway too even if you don’t live in California or possess an open-top sixties Chevy Impala.
Of course, with Once Upon A Time In Hollywood about to open in cinemas, FFE is right on the money conceptually and the Tarantino influences don’t end there. A few titles seem to reference various QT flicks – moody opener Stuntman and the upbeat breaks of Grindhouse for example while the blaxploitation-esque Miss Diamondback recalls the names of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad of Kill Bill. Two of the best tracks are actually the two most folk-influenced ones – the almost Cajun twangs of Highway Romance and the West Coast hippie psych-vibes of monkey favourite Picnic (which manages to work in an unexpected jazzy bridge) while closer Driving In The Sun is arguably the most disco of the set going to town with squelchy wah, strings and space laser FX. For all that though, this isn’t heavily retro in style of feel and maintains a contemporary party breaks sound throughout – just in case you can’t quite muster that California feeling while sat at the traffic lights in your twelve year old Ford Focus.
(Out 2 August HERE)